Former Thunder Reggie Jackson returns to his old stomping grounds and he could at the very least propel his new team the Detroit Pistons to an ATS cover visiting Oklahoma City.
Reggie Jackson faces his former teammates Friday night and he could help propel his new team to an ATS cover or maybe even an upset as a decided underdog when those Detroit Pistons (8-7, 8-7 ATS) pay a visit to the Oklahoma City Thunder (10-6, 6-10 ATS) at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, OK at 8:05 ET in a game available on FOX Sports - Oklahoma.
The point spread at Pinnacle Sports has Detroit as a road underdog for this contest with the current line at +8 with odds of -105.
Stark Contrast to Last Year
What a difference a year makes! You may recall that the Pistons began last season 5-23 over their first 28 games before playing in a weak Eastern Conference allowed them to somehow get into the playoff hunt later on with a semi-miraculous run. It has been a different story this year though as the Pistons immediately set a positive tone with an opening night upset at Atlanta and they currently remain over .500 at 8-7.
The Thunder are back to full strength this year for the most part after their Dynamic Duo of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook were hardly ever on the court the same time last year, when Westbrook missed the beginning of the season recovering from a torn ACL and Durant was limited to just 27 games due to a broken foot. Many expected Oklahoma City to return to elite status this season, but its current 10-6 record as NBA picks is actually a bit disappointing.
Jackson a Key to Detroit Improvement
Jackson was disgruntled his final days in Oklahoma City due to a lack of playing time, although it was understandably hard for the Thunder to give him more minutes with Westbrook putting up MVP-type numbers in Durant’s absence. So the Thunder acquiesced to Jackson’s wishes and traded him to Detroit, instantly upgrading a point guard spot that had been an area for concern for the Pistons once they lost Brandon Jennings to a torn Achilles in January.
The Pistons then committed to Jackson by re-signing him to a five-year, $80 million contract in July, thus demoting Jennings to the bench through no fault of his own when he finally returns in about a month. However, Jackson is proving worthy of his big bucks as he is averaging a career high 19.3 points and 6.0 assists, making him an integral part of the Detroit resurgence.
The Pistons are also playing better defense this season under Coach Stan Van Gundy, who doubles as the president of basketball operations and thus engineered the trade for Jackson. Detroit is fifth in the NBA in fewest points allowed at 96.3 points per game, and offensively has a nice inside-outside combination with Jackson complimented by a monster down low in Andre Drummond, who leads the NBA with his 17.8 rebounds per game while shooting 53.5 percent.
Thunder Burning Some Money This Year
Meanwhile, the Thunder have not been as impressive as expected and they have disappointed their supporters a lot lately by going 1-6 ATS in their last seven games! Granted, the Thunder remain second in the NBA in scoring with their 109.8 points per game, which should surprise nobody, but the problem has been on the other end where the defense seems to have regressed after usually playing well under former coach Scott Brooks.
Oklahoma City is 22nd in the league in points against at disturbing 103.8 per game under new skipper Billy Donovan, made even more disappointing by the fact that Donovan was such a great defensive coach in college at Florida. The Thunder have been especially weak on the perimeter, ranking 26th in the NBA in three-point defense, and while the Pistons are not a great three-point shooting team, they went 16-for-31 beyond the arc in a 104-81 blowout of the Heat Wednesday.
Detroit Head-to-Head Success
Finally, the Pistons are 5-1 ATS in the last six head-to-head meetings overall and 3-0 ATS in the last three meetings in this building including one outright upset. And remember that this is probably a better Detroit team than the ones that had ATS success in those last six meetings with the Thunder.
Look for Jackson to play some inspired basketball facing his former teammates for the first time, and for an improved Detroit team to cover this rather large point spread at the very least visiting Oklahoma City on Friday.
NBA Pick: Pistons +8 (-105)